kindness activist

kindness activist

Friday, November 15, 2019

Donuts (and a toilet and more...) Of Kindness!

It’s time for another accounting report of how the money raised at the Kindness Yard Sale was spent!

Let’s start this one in CHICAGO.  My sweetheart and I were eating breakfast at an amazing donut shop called Do-Rite Donuts.  We sat at the counter facing the window and watched the world go by as we sipped coffee and ate our treats - fried chicken sandwiches with DONUTS for "buns".  Yum! I noticed that a lot of people in scrubs were coming in, then realized the hospital was right across the street.  So, I went up to a man in scrubs near the register and said that I would like to buy his lunch with proceeds from a Kindness Yard Sale.  Boy was he surprised!!  He had ordered just a coffee, but I said, “Don’t you need a SANDWICH or anything?”.  He smiled a bit, hemmed and hawed with feeling awkward about taking a free lunch from a stranger, then accepted the offer of a sandwich.  I learned his name was Ryan and he was a tech at the hospital.  He thanked us 2 or 3 times before leaving. 
Total cost:  $7.23

Donuuuuuts at Do-Rite
And since we are on the HEALTH CARE and DONUTS theme, how about this one??  My sister brought me a Krispy Kreme donut recently.  I hadn’t had one in a long time and had forgotten how delicious they are!  So, I decided to buy a few dozen and hand them out to nurses, because nurses are the hardest working people in health care!  Lucky for me the woman working at the Krispy Kreme on 72nd St in Omaha, Nebraska was super cool.  I explained what I was doing and asked what the best deal was she could give me.  She sold me 5 boxes of donuts (some glazed, some fancy) for $29.95!   She also loaned me a Sharpie so I could write messages like “Nurses Rock!” and “We Heart Nurses” on the boxes.  Then I took them to Methodist Hospital and delivered them to nurses.  It was a bit of a hard delivery – that is the hospital where my dad and sister were both treated one year ago so it brought back some sad and scary memories.  But it also felt GOOD to surprise the ER nurses, cardiac nurses, and rehab nurses with sugary treats.  They were happy to get them and surprised they were “from a stranger”, not a family member of a patient. 
Total cost:  $29.95

Donut delivery - coming up!

Get ready nurses, here they come
Sticking with the health care and treats theme…  My neighbor Stacia gave me a great idea on how to use some of the money.  She told me, “Special needs parents are some of the most tired and stressed out people I know.  May I suggest finding a speech therapist office or an OT or a child therapy office and bringing some coffees for the parents in the waiting room?  It would mean the world to them.”  She then recommended a medical office in Falls Church, Virginia called “Great Beginnings”, which fit the bill and also had a Starbucks very nearby!  I stopped at New Beginnings and before I even got off the elevator I could hear a child having a meltdown.  In the hallway I was greeted by an exhausted woman sitting on the floor talking on her cell phone and other parents and kids standing around.  I went into the office.  There were 3 families in the waiting room.  It felt a little strange going up to people I had never met and offering them coffee, but I went for it!  The first woman was very surprised at the offer and teared up a bit to think that she was going to be treated.  She ordered an Earl Grey tea.  She and her daughter were not regulars to Starbucks, so the girl didn’t know what to order.  ๐Ÿ˜Š  The other people in the waiting room said thanks, but no thanks.  On my way out I paused to talk with the woman who was sitting on the floor and offered her a coffee, too.  “Oh, yes!!!” she replied.  When I asked what her order was, she said, “Oh, umm, my usual drink is too expensive, so just get me a regular coffee please”.   No, no, no, I insisted.  She deserved a treat!  So, she ordered a Misto with cream.  When I got to Starbucks I ordered the tea and coffee (venti of course!) plus a Strawberry Cream Frappuccino for the little girl and 5 cake pops.  It was so fun handing the treats out!  The hallway woman was very appreciative.  The little girl was delighted with her pink drink and cake pop.  And the families who had said “no thank you” the first time were happy to get a cake pop.
Total cost:  $23.32

Starbucks run!!
From Virginia to VIETNAM.  Some of the money was used to give a Kiva loan a woman named Mrs. Luyento.  She was trying to get a loan to buy materials to build a new toilet.  Here is the piece on her from Kiva: “Mrs. Luyแบฟn is 53 years old and married. Her husband is a fisherman. She sells seafood in the local market and also dries fish to sell. Her family's income from these businesses is unstable.  She dreams of having a hygienic toilet, but her income is not enough to get one. She is asking for a loan to buy sand, cement, bricks, and pipes to build a new toilet. They would like to improve their living conditions.  This is her fifth loan cycle with Thanh Hoa MFI.  In the future, she hopes for her business to do well.”
I love giving Kiva loans (I have loaned to 14 different countries!), and this one touched my heart.  Everyone deserves a hygienic toilet!  It makes me happy to know that some of the funds from the Kindness Yard Sale are helping her to improve her life.  Our money was pooled with loans from 47 other donors and she met her goal of $1300.  She has already repaid $1.67 of what we loaned her.  When she repays it all, I will choose another recipient on Kiva to keep the loans going.  If you have never considered loaning through Kiva, please check it out.  You will be inspired and grateful for all that you have.  Link to Kiva here
Total cost:  loan of $25, and $2.50 donation to Kiva itself

Mrs. Luyento - I hope she is happy with her new toilet!
And finally, back to Chicago.   My sisters and I had a long lay-over recently in Midway Airport and we noticed a lot of people in military uniforms.  I went to the register at Einstein Brothers Bagels and greeted a woman in an Air Force uniform.  I thanked her for her service and said I would like to buy her lunch with money raised at a Kindness Yard Sale.  She was very, very happy to have lunch “on us”.  And it turns out, she was deploying and was on the way to the United Arab Emirates.  Thanks for your service, ma’am!  Wishing you a safe deployment. 
Total cost:  $7.92

There is $168.08 of the “Kindness Money” left to spend (plus a few more investments that have been made that I have not written about yet).  I know that I am going to miss this project when it is over.  It has given me joy to spread this kindness!  Thanks again for donating and shopping at the Kindness Yard Sale!  

Until the next update… 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Kindness Yard Sale Update - $221.35 Remaining!

It has been a while since I wrote an update on how the proceeds from the Kindness Yard Sale were spent, so here we go!!  More of the money got spread to MORE places, which I love!!

·         $50.31 was used at Woodgrain Pizzeria in Midway Airport (Chicago) to buy lunch for a beautiful family.  My sisters and I were on a long layover and Midway and I noticed a family (Mom, Dad, and 2 young daughters) walk by us.  The mom was wearing a scarf on her head and look as if she was going through chemo.  I stood near the cash register of the restaurant as they were debating what to order, and after they decided what types of pizza they would get, I heard the girls repeatedly say that they also wanted fruit.  But when the dad ordered, it was just 2 pizzas, no fruit or drinks.  When they got up to where I was at the register I explained I would like to buy them lunch from money raised at a Kindness Yard Sale.  The mom teared up.  “I thought you wanted fruit?” I asked the girls.  “Where is your fruit??”.  I think the parents had not been able to justify spending $5.50 each for cups of cut up fruit, but I encouraged the girls to grab some (and they did).  They also were not getting anything to DRINK (to save money I presume), but with my encouragement they added some bottled water to their order.  I was so happy to be able to help them have a tasty lunch while at the airport.  And the airport employee was so proud that I (actually – WE – everyone who donated and shopped at the Kindness Yard Sale) was treating strangers that she gave me the 10% Airport Employee Discount.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

·         $12.29 was spent buying groceries for an older woman at a Dollar Tree store in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (in the Outer Banks).  I was in Dollar Tree trying to find some wigs for a silly project my sisters and I were working on, and the woman I ended up treating felt bad for blocking a display with her cart and apologized.  I noticed then that instead of buying “fun things” like I was, she was stocking up on food:  spinach, pepper, beets, some chips, water, etc.  She was surprised and delighted when I paid for her order, and the cashier “blessed me” (that blessing carries on to YOU, of course, everyone who shopped and/or donated to the yard sale).

·         $39.71 was used for a Front Gate Project at our house in Arlington, Virginia.  Front Gate Projects are things I do to bring joy and community to our neighborhood.  For this one, I hand painted envelopes and cards.  On the cards, I wrote messages, “fortunes” of a sort. Each envelope had a “fortune” and a gift inside.  Then I hung them on the front gate with pretty colored ribbons.  Everyone who happened upon them was invited to take one.  I loved it, and I think the neighbors did, too.  The envelopes had candy and goodies in them, and one special envelope contained a $20 bill.  A young neighbor opened that one and came up to the door to thank us (we were not home at the time but the Ring Doorbell captured it and made me smile). 

Signs for the project (a Spanish version hung nearby)

The envelopes waiting to be discovered

·         $35 was given to a woman in Omaha, Nebraska for her to shop at a grocery store.  She posted this in the Omaha Buy Nothing group: “I'm wanting to make a big pot of soup but have limited funds for the ingredients. Anyone have 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste they can part with?? Possibly any of the other items?  As soon as I saw the post I wanted to help her.  I have tried to give away most of the yard sale proceeds without depending on "need" but this woman's wants were so little, and warm soup is such a healthy, seasonal delight.  In messaging with her, it turned out her car had been recently vandalized, so I think having a stranger reach out to assist her was even more appreciated than it would normally be.  She said, “Oh my gosh!  You are too kind!!”.

Everyone deserves a warm bowl of soup
·        $20 was given to a patient at the Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska for her to buy herself a nice lunch.  We met her while we were sitting in the phlebotomy (blood draw) waiting room.  She was a patient and was there by herself (my sister is a patient there, too, and has never been to one of her appointments alone).  We all got to talking, and it turned out this woman’s name was JUDY LEE, which is also the name of our aunt!!  That fact made us fast friends with her from the get-go!  She was very talkative and fun and happy to chat with us.  She told us stories of how she and her friends used to get in trouble at school (and reminded us of the racism that African Americans had to face in this country and are still saddled with).  My sisters and I often go out for a nice lunch after treatment appointments, so we gave Judy Lee (the other Judy Lee ๐Ÿ˜Š ) $20 so she could treat herself to a delicious meal, too.  She was very, very grateful and surprised and thanked us profusely.
Some of my family and I at the Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha - they have beautiful Chihuly artwork
·         $5 was given to Jessie, a homeless man asking for money on the streets of Chicago.  He was grateful.

·         $14.99 was used to purchase a tote bag for a woman in a Glioblastoma (GBM) group on Facebook.  She posted to the group asking if it people thought it would be “ok” for her to carry a tote bag about GBM if she was not the patient, but a caregiver.  Many people, including myself, replied YES, she had every right to carry a GBM bag!  I messaged her and asked if I could use some Kindness Yard Sale money to get the bag for her.  She was so happy!  When the tote bag came in the mail, she sent me this photo of her holding it.  And she told me that she had already paid the kindness forward and bought the same bag for another member of the GBM group who had expressed interest in one!  That’s what I call an instant kindness boomerang!
YES care givers/care partners can carry this bag!
·         And finally, for this report, $25 was given as a donation to The Warming Shelter in Sioux City, Iowa.  It is an organization that runs a temporary winter shelter in Iowa.  The Warming Shelter was chosen randomly after I posted this on my Facebook wall:  Let's spread some kindness, shall we?? Comment below and say which non-profit you would donate $25 to. At noon tomorrow I will RANDOMLY pick one of the charities listed in the comments and donate $25 of the proceeds from the Kindness Yard sale to it. No political or religious organizations will be considered.  Where shall we donate??  Go!!   #KindnessActivist

           Over 50 people responded with great suggestions for donations.  I hadn’t heard of many of the 
           organizations suggested, for example Bus Across Nebraska, which transports visually 
           impaired people to a skiing event, Cure For The Kids Foundation, Universal Hope Initiative, 
           and A Better Life Pet Rescue.  There are SO MANY worthwhile organizations to donate to. 
           hope that some of the people who suggested organizations will be inspired to donate on their 
           own (and YOU, I hope YOU will choose an organization that is meaningful to you and donate 

That’s it for now.  $1555.76 was raised at the Kindness Yard Sale, of which $221.35 remains to be used (there are couple of other entries of funds that were spent that I have not written about yet).   I am having such an amazing time spreading this money around.  I think I will be sad when this project is finished, but thankful to have had the chance to do it. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Corner Kindness

My partner David and I visited Chicago recently.  We were exploring the city, which is BIG, cold, and windy in this time of year.  One evening we were rushing back to our niece’s home, where we were staying, for dinner.  We were walking toward the L – Chicago’s version of a subway/metro system.  Because it was cold and we were running late, we were walking briskly.  I noticed an African American man, maybe my age, sitting on a corner right outside a Walgreen’s store, but we walked past.

We got about a block away when I told David that I felt bad for passing the man by.  He hadn’t asked us for anything, but he had a small cup in his hand to collect money, and it was obvious he was homeless.  So, we turned around and walked back to meet him.

Once again, as we approached, he did not ask for anything.  He sat in silence under the store awning on the cold, dark evening.  I greeted him, then said, “I do not have any money to give you.  But we will get you WHATEVER you want from this store.  What would you like???”. 

His eyes lit up.  He smiled at us.  “You will get ME something???”, he asked us incredulously.  “Yes!  Whatever you want.  What would you like?” I asked him with a smile.  It didn’t take long for him to smile back and say in a very clear voice, “GREEN GRAPES!!”. 

Now, I must say at this point, that I had been worried he would ask for alcohol.  It was a big store, and bottles of booze were displayed in the window.  I had a plan – if he asked for alcohol or cigarettes, I had planned to say I could get him anything except those items.  But he did not ask for those things.  GREEN GRAPES were all he wished for.  And just the idea of the grapes seemed to make him very happy!

“Is there anything else you need or want??” I asked.  “Maybe gloves??” David added.  Why yes, he did need some gloves, as it was cold out and he had none.  Before we popped into the store I said, “We will be right back, don’t go anywhere!” and he smiled a big smile at me and said, “I ain’t goin’ NO WHERE!!”.

In we went, afraid that Walgreens was not the right type of store to find green grapes.  But lo and behold, there they were, a small refrigerated section displayed some very nice grapes!  Ok, got those!  Then found some soft, warm black gloves.  Then grabbed a couple of hand warmers and a bottle of water.  Then, for good measure and a bit of protein, we got some trail mix for him.

We brought everything out in a bag and showed it to him.  He was so very, very happy.  “I don’t even know your name,” I realized.  “I can tell you who I am.  I – I am JEFFREY THEODORE…”.  He told us his last name, too, and his rank in the military.  Yes, it turned out that he, as so many other homeless people, was a veteran.  I thanked him for his service and he told us about places he had been deployed.  David asked if he was connected to the VA and if they assisted him, and he politely explained that, when you had been in the military as long as he had been, sometimes you felt a need to “disconnect” from that and not work with the VA.

We told him our names and then he asked if we could do him a favor.  He held out his hands to us.  His hands that probably hadn’t been washed in quite a while, the hands we had seen wipe his nose as it ran from the cold weather. 

And we held his hands.  We stood, the 3 of us, a small circle of hope on a dark, cold night.  And Jeffrey prayed.  The man who had nothing and wanted only grapes, prayed.  But he didn’t pray for housing or for food or for money.  HE PRAYED FOR US.  Not to convert us, but to thank the Lord that people stopped and had kindness in their hearts.  He wished for peace and kindness in the world. 

Tears streamed down my face.  It was all so beautiful.  We gave him grapes, he gave us the world all he had in the world.  Strong hands to hold.  A renewed belief in humanity.  And kindness.

For accounting purposes, we spent $20.37 of the money raised at the Kindness Yard Sale on this act.  It felt impossible to measure the happiness and peace that came as a result of that small amount.  THANK YOU to everyone who donated and shopped at the Kindness Yard Sale. 

$316.87 of the proceeds from the yard sale is squirreled away waiting for perfect opportunities to use.  And $229.43 has already been used for kindness but this tired Kindness Activist needs to find time to sit down and tell you the stories of where it went here. 

For now, just know this – it is worth stopping and talking.  It doesn’t matter if it is DARK.  It doesn’t matter if it is COLD.  What matters is that we connect as humans.  We give what we can, and we make the world a better place.  One green grape at a time. 

Best $20.37 I have spent in a long time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Kindness Yard Sale Accounting - Over $380 Remaining...

I am trying not to write these Kindness Yard Sale updates too often – I don’t want the acts to come off as showy or braggy.  But I keep reminding myself – PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW HOW THE MONEY THEY DONATED IS BEING PUT TO USE, it’s just accounting!!  So, here’s another update on how the most recent proceeds from the Kindness Yard Sale were used.

Today we did 2 kind acts with the money that I really loved.

($14)   First, this afternoon I bought 2 dozen roses at Trader Joe’s.  If you haven’t shopped at TJ’s, I will tell you a secret:  they have amazing flowers for not a lot of money!  A dozen roses is only $6.99!!  The plan for the roses started a couple of weeks ago:  I asked in my local Buy Nothing group if people had those single stem watering tubes that they no longer needed.  I used to have a bag of them but finally got rid of them last year, and NOW I needed them!  Two people gave me the tubes they had, and one amazing neighbor ORDERED BRAND NEW ONES on Amazon to be delivered right to my house!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you Mitzi, you are a KIND neighbor.  Your gift delighted me!!  Then I made 24 notes targeted to NURSES.  They said things like, “Nurses rock”, “If you want something done, ask a NURSE”, and “Nurses are the unsung heroes of healthcare”.   I punched holes in the notes, tied yellow ribbon on them, and then today tied a note to each lovely rose. 

My sweetie and I then took all 24 roses to Virginia Medical Center Hospital and gave them out one by one to nurses.  They loved it!  We ran into our first nurse when were on the elevator going up – she was returning a wheelchair after discharging someone, I think.  She was so surprised to be thanked and given a rose – she got tears in her eyes.  From there we visited a few floors and one by one thanked nurses.  Each one was very thankful and delighted.  One even gave me a big hug.  That act of kindness will be repeated with 24 more roses at a local nursing home with notes targeted to seniors.

($28.37)   Doing THAT act of kindness was so fun, I was in the mood to do another one this evening!   For the previous kind acts I have been careful to not only target them to lower income people.  I want to spread kindness to EVERYONE, not just those who traditionally ask for a “hand out”.  But I have been thinking about how fortunate I am/we are, in that we have the luxury of basically getting everything we want.  I mean, sure, maybe we can’t buy a brand new Lexus or a mansion or take a year off work to travel around the world – but we have a ROOF over our heads, can go to the grocery store and stock up on heathy food (and treats) whenever we want, and have clean clothes to wear.  Many people in the world can’t say the same is true for them… 

So tonight, I decided to look for a homeless person and ask them:  what could you get that would make tonight or tomorrow BETTER?  In my mind, I had already decided that I would not use the kindness yard sale money to buy them alcohol or cigarettes.  Not because I do not think they do not deserve those items, but because I hoped to buy them something that would last.  I was a little nervous – I didn’t want to offend anyone by asking them my question.  But we saw a woman slowly dragging a heavy garbage bag down a street in DC, and I decided to get brave and ask her.

Her first response on what would make tonight/tomorrow better was MONEY. 

“Ahhh.  Well, I can’t give you that,” I told her.  “What THING – is there some THING that would be good?”.  She only thought a few moments before saying, “White socks!!”.  She was wearing what looked like uncomfortable sandals, and white socks sounded great to me!!  I asked what style – knee high, short???  Short ones were what she wanted, so that went on my mental list.  “What else??”.  She thought…  “Mint candy!!  Those soft ones.  Red.  And white.  And maybe green.”  Oooookkkk, not sure what you mean by that…  I countered, “How about those CHOCOLATE covered mints??” and her eyes lit up!!  “Yeah, yeah, those too!!!!”.  Then she came up with a really good need:  BATTERIES FOR HER RADIO.  Turns out, one of the heavy items she had been carting around in that garbage bag was a radio.  She showed us – 4 AA batteries.  And then she did something that I later realized was really brave – she GAVE ME one of the batteries (so I would know which kind to buy).  That was worth a lot to her.  I bet it wasn’t out of juice, and she trusted me to take it.  As we headed to our car to go fulfill her shopping list, I asked, “Will you still BE here when we come back with your things???” and she countered, “Lady, I am HOMELESS.  I ain’t got no where to go!”.  Touchรฉ, my new friend, touchรฉ.

Off we ran to Wal-Mart, which was another good reminder of how lucky we have it (or how privileged we are, depending on your vocabulary ๐Ÿ˜Š ).   It turns out, at the Wal-Mart in DC, the multi-packs of WHITE SOCKS ARE LOCKED UP.  You have to get an associate to unlock the case for you, and they have to WALK WITH YOU to the check-out to buy them.  I bet you don’t have that at your fancy suburban Wal-Mart, do you? 

We ended up buying her 4 pairs of white socks, 1 extra large box of Junior Mints, one large box of soft red and white mint candy, a bottle of cold water, a bottle of cold Diet Pepsi, 8 batteries (enough to run her radio twice) and, because my sweetheart swore he heard her yell, “And chocolate cake!” as we walked away, a big ol’ piece of chocolate cake. 

She was happy when we returned and wondered what had taken us so long (another sign of our privilege – we drove to Wal-Mart to get things cheaper and make the money last longer instead of the more expensive CVS store in walking distance…).  It turns out the red and white mints were just what she was thinking of, and the chocolate cake looked very tasty.  She blessed us, thanked us, called me “Boo” even though we had already exchanged names, and smiled.  I smiled back and shook her hand.  I can’t imagine how little eye contact and physical contact homeless people must get. 

I would like to repeat that kind act with another person. 

($10)   And lastly for this report, a $10 donation was given to a woman named Raquel in Orlando, Florida who is making and mailing these beautiful signs for FREE to anyone who wants one.  I am so impressed with her message and her generosity that I was happy to use some of the proceeds to help her pay for postage or printing.  If you would like a sign or to make a donation, please visit:

That’s it for this accounting update.  There is still $384.46 remaining from the sale to use for KINDNESS, and I have other ideas in mind (and some actions I have already taken but am too sleepy to write about tonight).  Thanks again for being a part of this – spreading kindness can only be a good thing, right?? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kindness Yard Sale - Over $1000 Given Away For Kindness So Far!

It’s time for another update on how the money raised at the Kindness Yard Sale is being used!!

So far, $1006.72 has been spent to SPREAD KINDNESS!  This entry will update you on the newest ways/places the money was used.

·         $15 was used to pay for the car behind us to get into Cape Canaveral National Seashore.  Cape Canaveral is a National Park, and as such you have to pay to enter.  EXCEPT, if you are lucky like us, you have a Senior Citizen pass that, once you pay for it, you get into all National Parks for freeeee!  And we nabbed ours a few years ago before the price on those puppies went up!  Anyway, we were going for the BEACH, and since we got in “free” we used some of the kindness money to pay for the strangers in the car behind us.  Little did we know that there was a LAUNCH of a Space X rocket going to happen there that evening!  (Somewhat blurry video of the rocket launch below.)  I am guessing that is why the person behind us was coming – to watch the launch!!  We got to see it, too, which was excellent.  If you are ever in Florida I highly recommend stopping here:  Cape Canaveral National Seashore

·        $7 was used to buy 2 delicious tamales for a homeless man who was outside a Mexican restaurant in Daytona Beach, Florida.  We had seen him there a couple of years ago, too, so he must frequent that area.  I asked our server if the restaurant gave him food and she said they do not, so I thought instead of watching all of the outside diners enjoy our meals, he should be treated, too. 

·        $66.22 was spent on supplies for Raising Men Lawncare Service.  It is an organization I read about online that sounds amazing!  They mow lawns for FREE for senior citizens, single parents, people who are disabled, and veterans.  How amazing is that?  And not only THAT, they recruit KIDS to do the work, teaching them the importance of helping in their communities and being kind!  They had an Amazon Wish List on their page, and the kindness money was used to fulfil a wish on their list – we sent them a Fisher Price Bubble Lawn Mower for one of the younger kids who wants to join and is not quite old enough for a real mower yet ๐Ÿ˜Š.  We also sent 24 bottles of Gatorade to help quench the mowers’ thirst!  They are looking to expand – it would be awesome if someone could set up a branch of RMLCS in Arlington!  Their website can be seen here:  Raising Men Lawncare Service

·        $13 was spent on a backpack.  Since it is back to school time, I really hoped to use some of the Kindness Yard Sale money to buy supplies for students.  The thing is, you have had to be careful who you offer the money to.  I do not want to offend anyone, do not want them to feel as if I don’t think they can afford the supplies.  So, it took a while to find the right person to offer it to, but the perfect little boy in WalMart crossed our path and he ended up with his choice of backpack with money from the Kindness Yard Sale.  He was shopping with his mother, and neither spoke much English.  The mom seemed to be trying to understand the note from the school and figure out what supplies to buy.  I asked if he was going to be getting a new backpack, and they smiled and nodded.  So, I walked with him over to the backpacks and let him pick one out.  He chose a Jurassic Park bag, which looked perfect for him.  His mother “God Blessed” us, which I pass along to YOU here – God Bless all the donors and shoppers at the Kindness Yard Sale!

·        $30 was spent on another back to school activity – buying diverse books and supplies for Ms. Sokol’s classroom at Campbell Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia.  And because of an anonymous donor, the $30 was doubled, making it $60!  I found her project on the Donors Choose website, and I think it so clearly reflects the values of the Penrose neighborhood where the yard sale was held.  She wrote:
“Diverse Classroom Supplies: I See Me In Stories!  My Project
This project will provide diverse books to the students in my classroom. It will also provide diversity activity materials that have different colored art materials that each student can match to their skin, hair and eye color and texture! As a Kindergarten teacher, it is important to teach about diversity and inclusion in ways that students will understand. One way I want to do this is through books that students can see themselves in. The students will be able to identify with the books because the characters will either look or act like them.
Students need books that are "mirrors," or books that they see themselves, their families, and their communities reflected as important and valued in.”

Isn’t that great??  If you have never logged onto Donors Choose, check it out here:  Donors Choose

  • ·        $25 was donated to a memorial fund for a Nebraska man, Cody Reutter, who died in a fishing accident.  He left behind a wife and 4 young children.  The funds will be used to help with funeral costs and on-going living expenses for his family.  Cody Reutter Family GoFundMe Campaign

  • ·        $28 was used to cheer up a cancer patient in England.  As some of you know, my sister in Nebraska has Glioblastoma (GBM), a form of brain cancer.  Because of social media, we have been able to connect with other GBM patients and their care givers all around the world.  One of our favorite people that we have met is “Queen Jean” from Lancashire, England.  Her daughter-in-law visits her very often and shares photos and videos with the GBM group.  Jean has been having a rough go of it lately and her husband has also been in the hospital.  Despite it all, Jean has a very cheery disposition (and a very heavy British accent ๐Ÿ˜Š ) and it is so fun to watch her on video.  Most recently she read the story of the “Wonky Donkey” aloud and she laughed at every page!  So, to give Queen Jean a new, funny story to read aloud, I sent her the book “It’s A Bad Day” by Mary Ellen Friday using funds from the sale.  It sounds bad (and sad) book, but it has a very nice ending that I know she will enjoy.  I am guessing she will giggle especially loud at the cheekier parts… 

  •    $5.71 was spent to surprise a stranger named Savannah with a birthday gift.  A call went out to send cards to a teenager in Omaha who has been ill and is having a birthday.  I sent a card, along with a pretty bracelet bought with yard sale funds.

  •   And finally for this report, $60.41 was used to help a teacher have flexible seating for her classroom.  I saw this posted on the NextDoor app:  “Teacher Looking for Donations:  I am 5th grade teacher at an Arlington school and I want to provide my students with alternative seating options to help them better focus. I’m looking for donations of anything like stools, or yoga balls. Must be easily moveable. Please let me know if there is anything you are willing to donate. Thank you.”  I reached out to the poster, ReeAnn Aune, who teaches at Barcroft Elementary.  I told her that her cause sounded like a perfect use for Kindness Yard Sale proceeds and asked her to pick out a chair on Amazon.  She chose a round, folding bungee cord chair, which should arrive in her classroom this week!  Thanks Amazon.  ๐Ÿ˜Š 

Over $500 of the Kindness Yard Sale proceeds remain to be spread around - can't wait to find more ways to use it!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Kindness Yard Sale Accounting - $859.38 left to SPREAD KINDNESS!

 Time for another KINDNESS YARD SALE accounting!! 

I have been travelling lately, which means I have been able to SPREAD SOME OF THE MONEY in other states!!  Here is where funds have gone since the last accounting:

·         $5 was put into a bottle with a message and thrown into the Atlantic Ocean at Flagler Beach, Florida.  The money and note went into a little glass bottle with a cork top, which I sealed with candle wax.  I swam out a ways before throwing it in, hoping it would go FAAAR.  Turns out it went as far as the people swimming next to us…  ๐Ÿ˜Š  They saw it and went to pick it up, and I smiled and said, “I just threw that in!  Can you throw it a bit further please??”.  They did.  Fingers crossed that someday someone finds it and gets ahold of me so we can all find out where it ended up.  And wouldn’t it be cool if they decide to use the $5 to pay it forward and give someone ELSE a treat?

Message (and money!) in a bottle
  •   $20 was spent as a TIP for a restroom attendant in the Atlanta Airport.  She was emptying garbage, cleaning the counters, and mopping the floor.  She was the sweetest, FRIENDLIEST airport employee ever!  “Hello ladies!  Have a great flight!  Thank you ladies!!”.  She talked to every woman that came in the bathroom.  That has to be a thankless job, but she was doing it with grace, professionalism, and a smile.  She was not working for tips – there was no tip jar or anything.  But she was sure happy to get one.

Getting ready to suprise the bathroom cleaning woman with a big tip!
·         $1 was used to replace the money in a gumball machine when it ate a kid’s quarters.  He had such a sad look on his face when he turned the knob and his treat didn’t pop out…  But he smiled a big smile when I gave him replacement money to try again.

·        And since we were at gumball machines, another $5 was used to put quarters in machines for unsuspecting kids to find later.

·        Estelina is a 16 Deaf student from Maryland planning to go on a cultural exchange for a year in ARGENTINA!  She met an exchange student last year who was in the US from Germany and decided she needs to travel, too!  I think going abroad is an important experience for everyone, and was happy to be able to donate $75 of the Kindness Yard Sale money to help Estelina reach her goal.

Life changing exchange trip to Argentina coming soon!

$100 was used to help a family in need.  I do not know the family, but a friend posted about them and their situation sounded like a perfect one to help out with.  They live near St. Louis and have a child with a rare form of dwarfism, and while they were in Cincinnati getting medical care for her, someone STOLE THEIR CAR.  That meant the car seat for their daughter, their other child, and a special stroller that had room for the medial equipment was also stolen.    (Update:  the car was recovered, though I am not sure if the car seats and stroller were.  Funds raised will be used to help for medical bills.)

Her Cabbage Patch doll has a trach just like her!  Could she BE any cuter??
·         Not all acts of Kindness I have tried have worked.  We tried to pay off a random student’s lunch debt at an Arlington Elementary School, but they were not set up to allow that.  Because it is summer there was not a full staff working and everything for lunch payments needed to be done online.  But we do not have an online account…  So that one was a fail.  We will try again when school opens!

·         Another failure was on a flight.  I was in line to board a full flight and the lady behind me had a roller bag.  The airline had announced overhead bin space would fill soon, so I told her to go ahead of me (I only had an under the seat bag).  The next lady in line also let her cut.  In talking, it turns out her grandma had just died and she was heading for the funeral service.  I thought buying her a glass of wine would be a nice gesture, so I explained to the flight attendant what I wanted to do.  But it turns out the woman only wanted water…  Kindness fail.  ๐Ÿ˜Š

·         We had a lot of fun using $7 at a drive-thru restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska!!  Runza is a Nebraska fast food chain, and when we go to Omaha we often pick up a burger there.  After eating, I hid behind the drive thru menu waiting for the next customer so I could surprise them and pay for their order!  My sisters surprised ME by driving up and ordering ice cream, but I told them the offer to pay for food was for strangers, not family.  We all had a big laugh.  Then another car drove up – an SUV with parents and kids.  They were happy to get free ice cream thanks to the Kindness Yard Sale!!
Hiding behind drive thru menu!

Runza - a Nebraska tradition

·         $50 was given to a student from Romania.  She is in the USA for a couple of months working as a cleaner at a hotel in Kansas City and we got into a long conversation with her.  She loves America – had done an internship here once before.  She is a medical student in Romania but dreams of moving to the US.  She was practicing her English and trying to get fluent.  She wants to work and hang out with people who speak ENGLISH, not Romanian.  I asked what she wanted to do while she is in the states, and she wants to visit Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  She did not want to take the money, but I told her it was to help her explore America.  I didn’t say it out loud, but I sure thought it:  this is not a good time to be an immigrant in this country.  I want her to have a GREAT experience.  I hope she gets enough money together to explore!!

·         And the last one for this installment is:  $16.79 was spent on FLOWER POTS!  I got the idea from a kindness group to paint flower pots, plant cute plants in them, and leave them out for strangers to find.  They were very fun to paint, and all 3 were found the same day we hid them in Ormond Beach, Florida (we went back to check on them).  2 were hidden in view of the ocean, and 1 was hidden in the center of a labyrinth.  I hope the plants are thriving in their new homes.

Flower pots, plants, and notes ready to be put out into the "wild" for strangers to find!

One of the pots waiting for someone to come along and adopt it
We have $859.38 from the yard sale left to spend on KINDNESS!  It is so fun to be able to delight people unexpectedly.  If you have an idea for a way to use some of the Kindness funds, please let me know!